November Poem--Shakespeare--The Quality of Mercy


It sometimes astonishes me to realize that a great many people have never encountered the Bard in any significant way, either through choice or through the poor preparation of our educational system. When I was in nineth grade, the required reading for the year included Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." My teacher, Mrs. Erskine, had no time or tolerance for that "muddled romantic prattle" and further thought it set a bad example for young students. And so instead we read, and I fell in love with "The Merchant of Venice." Things I memorized in that year, I remember still and the play lives with me day to day. It is unlikely that Shakespeare meant it as an indictment of prejudices common at the time, and yet it is so easy to discern that thread. And this is a sililoquy that everyone should have some acquaintance with--so, if it is new savor it, and if not, enjoy the reacquaintance.

And so, without further ado, the poem:

from "The Merchant of Venice" Act IV Scene I
Portia, disguised as a Judge speaking
William Shakespeare

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.

Something more of our legal profession might do well to internalize. More, something we could all benefit from practicing more often in our relations with others.

Bookmark and Share



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 7, 2003 7:36 AM.

Morning Offering and Prayer Requests was the previous entry in this blog.

Christ Altogether Lovely VI is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll